The House of Faith for the Family | 1203 9th Avenue North | Nashville, TN
1885 - 1960
The Beginning of Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church
The year was 1885. Less than twenty years earlier, the Civil War had to an end, and the South was in a period of recovery. While many Southerners faced economic crisis after the war, former slaves—now free men and women—were thriving. They left the plantations and rural areas behind and settled in urban areas like Nashville. These settlements formed the nuclei of major black communities such as North Nashville.
Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church had its beginning when a loyal band of Christians—Irene Smart, Bill Smith, Ed Marshall and others—formed the West Cedar Street Baptist Church. It was one of sixteen Black Baptist churches organized by the end of the 1880’s. For ten years they worshiped in a building on Cedar Street. Their hardships and struggles were many. In 1895, beset by internal difficulties, the group that was to become our mother church decided to relocate near the Stock Yard at the corner of 17th Avenue North and Lyon (now Jo Johnston) Avenue. God sent Reverend A. W. Porter as its first pastor.
Reverend A. W. Porter (1895-1931)
Reverend Porter was a strong and dynamic leader and is credited with giving this church direction and guidance, enabling it to maintain a position of leadership down through the years. To raise funds for the purchase of our first church building, Rev. Porter held the first revival service at a livery stable at 17th Avenue North and Cedar Street. By 1900, the church had its first permanent church home—a frame structure on Stonewall Street (later to become Fifteenth Avenue). The church continued to progress, and Reverend Porter continued to make his ministry felt at Fifteenth Avenue, in Nashville, as well as throughout the denomination. When he suffered failing health in 1929, Reverend Walter R. Murray was called as Acting Pastor.
Reverend W. R. Murray (1929-1953)
As Joshua in biblical times continued the spiritual work of Moses, so did Reverend Murray continue what Reverend Porter commenced. Under his pastorate, there was a new upsurge in growth and activity. Despite a depression that gripped the nation, souls were added to the vineyard, a baptistery and dining room were added, and the membership crystallized with the establishment of numerous organizations. In 1951, the church was forced to again find a new home at 1203 Ninth Avenue North, our present site. After nearly 25 years of faithful service, Rev. Murray was called to his heavenly home. In April 1954, the Reverend Leroy Crinel was installed as the church’s third pastor.
Reverend Leroy Crinel (1953-1960)
As Shepard of a membership of five hundred members, the church saw a need for more expansion and began a building fund in 1958 for a new edifice. Church clubs like the Women’s Progressive, Rose of Sharon, Willing Workers, and the Nurse’s Aid Guild were organized to assist in the fundraising. Construction of the new worship place began in 1959. During the interim, worship services were held at Elliott School auditorium on Sixth and Jefferson Street. After the termination of Reverend Crinel’s ministry, Reverend Enoch Jones was a call to the pastorate in January 1961.
Reverend Enoch Jones (1961-1994)
Reverend Jones plunged immediately into securing sufficient funds for the completion of the edifice begun under the pastorate of Reverend Crinel. On Sunday, August 6, 1961, Reverend Jones and the jubilant members entered their new edifice singing, “We’ve Come This Far by Faith.” Ten years later, the church liquidated the $100,000 debt. Later, construction began on the educational-recreational edifice that today stands as the Enoch Jones Activity Center. Under Reverend Jones’ leadership, the membership increased by several hundred people. The enabled the church to raise its projected annual budgets while increasing its contributions to educational institutions, missions, and community services. After 30 years of service, Reverend Jones retired in 1992. He now bears the distinguished title of “Pastor Emeritus.” In June 1994, God sent us the Reverend William Buchanan.
Reverend William Buchanan (1994-2016)
A new model of ministry for the body of Christ is operative in us. Pastor Buchanan has become a catalyst for Holy Spirit-inspired new dimensions in worship activities and is leading us toward the fulfillment of a new vision God has set before us. With new energy, Pastor Buchanan has led us toward the fulfillment of a new vision God has set before us.
The concept of VISION is deeply rooted in biblical history. Solomon proclaims in Proverbs 29:18 that “Where there is no vision, the people will perish…” Vision is essential to the unfolding and forward movement of Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church. It also is the bedrock of Kingdom Ministry. John S. Dunne in The Reasons of the Heart, speaks of an adage from the Bushman tribe—”There is a dream, dreaming us.” Dunne says, “We are part of a dream (vision).” The dream dreaming us is God’s vision of us. What a sobering thought that something as fragile and sinful as humanity is a part of the vision of God for lost humanity! However, as essential as a vision is to the church, it can be difficult to define in any substantive way. A vision deals with a reality that is not yet or a reality that is becoming. George Barna, in his book, The Power of Vision, consistently describes a vision as opposed to defining it — “vision is about stretching reality to extend beyond the existing state…a vision connotes a reality that does not exist currently.” Therefore, if vision is anything, it sees the future from the present; it is looking toward a future that is captured only in the heart.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
- Mathew 11: 28 - 29
Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church | 1203 9th Avenue North | Nashville, TN 37208